Geek Trivia

The Oldest Genetic Proof Of Malaria Was Found In A?

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Answer: Mummy

A genetic analysis of the mummy of Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, King Tutankhamun, revealed a wide range of things about the pharaoh and his lineage. As suspected (and as is the case with many royal bloodlines throughout history), the analysis revealed that his parents were related—siblings, in fact.

Further, the analysis shored up support for historical accounts that his body was frail because of various genetic abnormalities. While the examination of his body and of other mummies revealed a fascinating and complex web of relationships between them (mummies previously thought to be his ancestors have been positively identified through genetic testing), it also revealed the history of communicable diseases in the ancient world.

King Tut’s body carries markers of not just one, but multiple infections of malaria from different strains. These markers are the earliest genetic evidence of malaria in humans and—if not for the incredibly elaborate and effective burial rituals of the Ancient Egyptians—would have been lost to the literal and figurative sands of time.

Image courtesy of Tiger Cub/Wikimedia.